Every parent’s worse nightmare is to find their infant dead after putting them to sleep, and often, cosleeping is portrayed by the media as dangerous practice. While watching the news at my father’s house, such a tragic death was discussed, and cosleeping was blamed. A child became trapped between the adult bed and the wall, and he lost his young life. The crying parents were featured on the news begging parents not to sleep with their children. As an avid cosleeping parent, I found the report misleading. It stated that 60 children a year die from cosleeping, but the real cause may lay elsewhere.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is also known as “crib death”, and 1 in 1000 children die from it, according to a SIDS Foundation of Washington. The causes vary, and one researcher in New Zealand claims toxic nerve gases in crib mattresses are to blame. Other studies claim an abnormality in the brains of children that prevent oxygen release is to blame. No matter what the cause, it is definitely advisable to place babies on their backs and to remove bedding, pillows, etc. that can cause suffocation.
Cosleeping is not to blame for children’s deaths, but unsafe bedding practices, whether in cribs or adult beds pose a threat. In fact according to Healthy Child, “The benefits of co-sleeping are enormous as co-sleeping positively affects a baby’s emotional and physical health. When safe co-sleeping guidelines are followed, SIDS rates for co-sleeping infants are actually lower than for crib-sleeping infants. Breastfeeding is known to reduce the risk of SIDS, and co-sleeping definitely allows for more frequent breastfeeding. Some doctors and researchers believe that during co-sleeping, the physiological regulation of the baby’s breathing and heartbeat with the mother’s makes co-sleeping safer regarding SIDS. Mothers who sleep directly next to their babies can sense the proximity of their babies in order to avoid smothering them. The sleep studies done in the laboratory of James J. McKenna, Ph.D. of cosleeping/bed-sharing mother and infant pairs (2 to 4 month olds) reveal that both breastfeeding mothers and their infants are extremely sensitive throughout the night – across all sleep stages – to the movements and physical condition of the other. Mothers who sleep with their babies can readily respond to changes in the baby’s status – such as if it were choking or struggling to breathe.” They also provide Guidelines for Sleeping Safely With Your Baby.
I cannot imagine the tragedy of losing a child to a preventable situation families experience; however, I believe that the media should not place blame where blame is not due. Cosleeping does not cause death. Unsafe conditions that may exist in adult beds and cribs can cause death, especially if the child is prone to lack of oxygen release.
My child would be dead if I had not had her in bed with us. It saved her life many times. I will never ever regret having her in our bed. I had a lot of family members griping at me for having her in bed with us. I even think our doctor may have said something. There are safe ways to do it. The same thing can happen if a baby gets up against the bumpers in a baby bed.
By the way, I was once a person who thought people who slept with their kids were weird. Becoming a mom definitely changes the way you think.
Ami Scott says
I love cosleeping although it definitely takes getting used to. The oldest three stayed in our bed until there were about 4 months, at which time their fatherkicked them out into their own beds although I wished to keep them in longer. However, with our youngest, she is 13 months and still in our bed although we have started the transistion to her own bed. Not only is it easier to nurse the little one when they are in bed with you, but there is just something so wonderful about having such a small body curled up next to you. I think in all of the timewe had the kids in the bed, the worst was that their father rolled into an arm or leg and then rolled off again almost immediately. There is an awareness that most parents have when a little one is in bed with them. I too think the benefits far out weigh the negatives. But you do have to approach this with caution, especially at first until your body gets used to having the baby there. I also kept lighter blankets on the bed in the beginning until I got used to keeping them a certain way in my sleep so the little one’s wouldn’t smother.
Nicole Clifford says
I never felt safe with my child in bed with me so they slept in a cradle next to our bed. But far be it for me to deny another person that joy. My brother and sister in law co sleep with their daughter and seem happy about it.
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